President Bush went easy onthe word “victory” on Wednesday. In his entire 2,916 wordspeech outlining a new Iraq strategy, he used it only twice, and inthe same paragraph.
“Victory will not look like the ones our fathers andgrandfathers achieved,” the president warned.
“There will be no surrender ceremony on the deck of abattleship. But victory in Iraq will bring something new in the Arabworld -- a functioning democracy that polices its territory, upholdsthe rule of law, respects fundamental human liberties, and answers toits people.”
Precious few are the American politicians who dare use the word atall. Even John McCain, who appears to have staked his 2008presidential hopes on the troop “surge” the presidentannounced, is gently trying to put some distance between hispolitical fortunes and those of the president.
Speakingon FoxNews shortlyafter Wednesday night’s speech, McCain said he supported thetroop surge, noting that it was “not really just an increase introops, it is a change in strategy.”
Then he hastened to add: “I can’t guarantee that it willsucceed...but if we fail, we will have greater problems throughoutthe region.”
I am sure the readers of the page will correct me, but so far theonly U.S. politician I have found besides the president who hastalked about victory in Iraq is Joe Lieberman, still the juniorsenator from Connecticut, but now free of the Democratic Partylabel.
“There are two ways we can end the war in Iraq,” he saida few days before the president’s speech. “Defeat, orvictory.”
Bush was right when he framed his new strategy – whichressembles the seize and hold strategy of classic counter-insurgencywarfare – in the larger context of the global war againstterror. He used varying terms to define the enemy: “radicalIslamic extremists,” was the most clear, but more often thisbecame, simply, “extremists.”
Similarly, he watered down his warnings to Iran, even though theywere widely remarked by commentators on the Left, who found yet moreevidence that the Bush White House plans an “unprovoked”war on Iran.
I was disappointed that the president did not insist that theDirector of National Intelligence (or whoever is in charge ofintelligence coming out of Iraq these days) declassify the criticalinformation that was leaked to reporters shortly after the capture oftwo senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers in Baghdad overChristmas.
One of them, identified as General Chizari, was said to be third incommand of the Qods Force, the Revolutionary Guards strike arm usedto plan and carry out overseas terrorist attacks.
Michael Ledeen called the documents seized from Chizari asa “wiringdiagram” ofIran’s terrorist networks inside Iraq.
Eli Lake of the New York Sun revealedon January 3 thatthe documents confirmed "that Iran is working closely with both theShi'ite militias and Sunni jihadist groups.”
Please pause for a second and reread that last sentence. It isabsolutely critical to understanding the magnitude of the threatAmerica is facing, and the manifest incapacity of our intelligenceestablishment to grapple with that threat (let alone defeat theterrorists and their masters).
Since 1979, when Islamic terrorism took off as a religiousphenomenon, U.S. intelligence analysts have used exquisite (Western)logic to differentiate between Shi'ite Muslim terrorist groups,backed by Iran, and Sunni Muslim terrorist groups, backed initially(during the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan) by Saudi Arabia,Pakistan, and the United States.
But all that began to change in the early 1990s, when Iran took afresh look at the success of Osama Bin Laden’s jihadisagainst the Soviets. The Iranians concluded bin Laden increasingestrangement from his Saudi backers presented an opportunity theycould exploit. They were right.
In 1993, Iran dispatched its top overseas terrorist, ImadMugniyeh, to meet with bin Laden in Khartoum. We know about thismeeting because the man who organized now sits in a U.S. prison,after copping a plea with prosecutors for his involvement in the 1998Africa embassy bombings and other al-Qaeda operations against theUnited States.
Ali Mohammed not only arranged that 1993 meeting between bin Ladenand Mugniyeh; he continued to broker Iranian assistance to al-Qaeda,all the while he duped the FBI and got paid as a confidentialinformant.
I wrote about Ali Mohammed and the Khartoum meeting inCountdownto Crisis: the Coming Nuclear Showdown withIran. I felt it wasessential to show how Iran’s Shi'ite fundamentalist leaderscame to the conclusion that supporting the Sunni fundamentalistal-Qaeda movement served their strategic interests, and how theyacted on those interests.
The CIA has consistently attempted to debunk any notion ofShi'ite-Sunni terror collaboration. From Paul Pillar, the top CIAanalyst on Middle East terror until he retired in 2004 (thank-you,Porter Goss!) to Stephen Kappes, the current deputy director of CIA,the Agency establishment has pushed the story that an iron wallexists between Shia and Sunni terrorists.
The documents seized in Baghdad provide yet more proof that such awall does not exist. The Iranians tore it down in 1993, and havenever regretted it.
Even the 9/11 Commission reluctantly came to that conclusion on page241 of its final report, which described the material assistance Irangave to “eight to ten of the muscle hijackers” whocarried out the September 11 attacks. (There is much more to thatstory that I learned from sources, which I described in my book).
The Left has tried to argue that the upsurge in violence in Iraq cameas a result of Israel’s “war against Lebanon” thissummer – yet another myth that inserts Israel as the nefariousevil doer into events to which it was completely foreign.
Anyone who has followed the war in Iraq knows that sectarian warerupted on February 22, when terrorists attacked and severely damagedthe Golden Mosque in Samarra, one of the holiest shrines inShi'ism.
Everyone just assumed that the attackers were Sunniinsurgents, probably al-Qaeda or backed by a-Qaeda.
I notedin this space last monththat we shouldn’t be so quick to judge. From what I was hearingfrom my Iranian sources, the attack had the fingerprints of theIranians all over it.
Would Shi'ite Iran encourage the destruction of a Shi'ite shrinein Iraq to incite Iraqi Shi'ites to battle Iraqi Sunnis? You bet.
Remember the August 1978 arson against the Ahwaz cinema inIran, when hundreds of Iranian moviegoers perished in flames. Atthe time, Iran’s “revolutionaries,” led byAyatollah Khomeini, blamed the Shah for mercilessly killing hiscountrymen. Only two decades later did the revolutionaries themselvesadmit to what many had suspected for years: that they themselves hadplanned and carried out the arson attack, in order to ignite thematch of revolution.
Just hours after the president’s speech on Wednesday night,U.S. forces in Iraq seized six Iranians from a safe house in Irbil,in northern Iraq. U.S. commanders said they had convincing evidencethat the men were involved in preparing terrorist attacks.
In Tehran, the regime “summoned” the ambassadors of Iraqand Switzerland (which has represented the United States since Iran’srevolutionaries broke diplomatic relations during the hostagecrisis), to demand the return of the men.TheIranians claimed they were just five,not six, and that they had been seized from an Iranian “consulate.”
It was the type of “consulate” where “diplomats,”who normally wore shoulderboards when at home, dispensed orders,money, and munitions to terrorist recruits. It was a trick theIranians have perfected for years. (Photographs of Rev. Guardstraining in Iran then appearing as “humanitarian aid workers”in Iraq in 2003 canbe seen here.)
President Bush in his speech gave a restrained presentation of Iran’sdeadly meddling in Iraq. U.S. commanders on the ground havedemonstrated that they are now willing to take off the gloves, andexecute the president’s orders to “disrupt the attacks onour forces” and “interrupt the flow of support from Iranand Syria.”
Democratic Senator Dick Durban indulged in Jesse Jackson jivein his immediate reaction to the Bush speech, saying the U.S. needed,not a surge in troops, but a “surge in diplomacy.”
Over the past week, the U.S. Navy has given orders to the U.S.S.John Stennis carrier battle group, based in Bremerton, WA, tosteam toward the Persian Gulf, where it will join the U.S.S.Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Navy sources say the Pentagon is getting ready to announce thedispatch of a third carrier battle group – the U.S.S. RonaldReagan – from San Diego. That will make three carrierbattle groups in the region starting at around the end ofJanuary.
Oh, and along with them is the amphibious assault group led by theU.S.S. Boxer, which can land several thousand U.S. Marines toseize and destroy strategic sites near the coast at a moment’snotice. (Busheir? Bandar Abbas? Jask? The three Persian Gulf islandsIran seized from the UAE in the 1990s and has since fortified toharass Gulf shipping? Your pick).
Victory in Iraq cannot come until the United States makes it clear toIran – even more than Syria, since the Syrians will take theirlead from Tehran – that we will no longer tolerate theirintervention in Iraqi affairs.
The president has now said this. And the U.S. military is beginningto back it up.
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